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Trump meets with a senior Japanese official after court session in his hush money trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is meeting with another foreign leader while he's in New York for his criminal hush money trial .
FILE - Then Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan speaks with reporters during a news conference at the end of the financial summit in Washington, Nov. 15, 2008. Former President Donald Trump is meeting with another foreign leader while he’s in New York for his criminal hush money trial. The presumptive GOP nominee will host former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso at Trump Tower Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is meeting with another foreign leader while he's in New York for his criminal hush money trial.

The presumptive GOP nominee was hosting former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, one of the country's most influential politicians, at Trump Tower on Tuesday evening.

“He’s a highly respected man in Japan and beyond,” Trump told reporters as he greeted Aso in the Trump Tower lobby. “It's a great honor to have him.”

Aso is just the latest foreign leader to spend time with Trump in recent weeks as U.S. allies prepare for the possibility that he could win back the White House this November. Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden are locked in what is expected to be an extremely close rematch, even as Trump stands criminal trial in Manhattan and faces three additional criminal indictments.

“Leaders from around the world know that with President Trump we had a safer, more peaceful world,” said Trump spokesperson Brian Hughes in a statement. “Meetings and calls from world leaders reflect the recognition of what we already know here at home. Joe Biden is weak, and when President Trump is sworn in as the 47th President of the United States, the world will be more secure and America will be more prosperous.”

Trump met last week with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower and also met recently with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Trump was close with Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated in 2022, and their relationship underscored the premium Trump puts on personal ties when it comes to foreign affairs.

Trump told reporters he'd gotten to know Aso “through our very dear friend, Shinzo,” whom he praised as “one of my favorite people in the world.”

"We loved Shinzo," said Trump. “Shinzo was a great friend of mine. He was truly a great man and somebody that we all respected and we really loved. And I miss him greatly."

Aso, 83, served as deputy prime minister and finance minister under Abe and is now vice president of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party and considered a kingmaker in the country. His trip comes amid growing concern in Japan over the impact of a possible Trump victory on the country's trade relations and security ties with the U.S.

Trump has threatened to impose broad new tariffs if he wins a second term and has generally approached international agreements with skepticism.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump complained about the U.S. dollar reaching a new high against the Japanese yen, calling it “a total disaster for the United States.”

“When I was President, I spent a good deal of time telling Japan and China, in particular, you can’t do that,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. “It sounds good to stupid people, but it is a disaster for our manufacturers and others.”

The U.S. dollar is trading at above 150 yen recently, up from 130-yen mark a year ago, which has made it more costly for Japan to import goods but has boosted exports.

Aso visited the U.S. in January, when he met with Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee who served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan when Trump was in the White House.

On Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa declined to comment on Aso’s trip, saying “the government is not involved and it’s his personal activity” as a lawmaker.

President Joe Biden hosted current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House for talks and a state dinner earlier this month. During the visit, the leaders announced plans to upgrade U.S.-Japan military relations, with both sides looking to tighten cooperation amid concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program and China’s increasing military assertiveness in the Pacific.


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report from Tokyo.

Jill Colvin, The Associated Press